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August 17, 2018

How Local Governments can Unlock the Power of the Cloud

The first major obstacle to overcome is the fear of losing governance and control over data security

By CBR Staff Writer

With the cloud rapidly becoming a significant part of organisations’ innovation initiatives, it is little wonder that 85 percent of IT and business decision makers believe the technology will be an essential part of their digital transformation strategy in the coming years.

Michael Segal, Area VP, Strategy, NETSCOUT

Yet as cloud proves its success in the business world, many are asking why local governments have not taken full advantage of its capabilities.

With the cloud perfectly placed to enable local governments to to scale, deliver costs savings and introduce new, improved and more reliable services, the time is ripe for them to digitally transform.

The truth is that local councils and government bodies have slowly begun moving to the cloud. But they, just like any other business, need to have a cloud strategy, a governance model and policies in place, outlining the goals and aims of the cloud deployment, as well as the on-going management process.

However, local councils are not like nimble start-ups that can live exclusively in the cloud; they have a wealth of legacy systems and applications that cannot effectively be virtualised and migrated.

On top of this comes a host of security concerns, governance, compliance, and regulatory requirements which means that it may be prudent to keep some of the digital assets on premise.

A combination of all these factors means that the road ahead is more complicated than simply deploying new infrastructure as a service and migrating applications and data to the cloud.

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Before any work starts, the first major obstacle to overcome is the fear of losing governance and control over data security and application or service performance. A mindset of losing visibility of applications and data which have been migrated to the cloud, as well as their security assurance and compliance with corporate governance policies, needs to be shifted.

Thoughtful migration

Some councils make their journey to the cloud by shifting various applications, such as council tax payment gateways, off premise.

This is a positive first step and enables them to dip their toe in the water with applications that IT teams are confident will run in the cloud. A staged migration is a good way to start a new cloud deployment, as it is important to ensure that the new architecture can operate alongside the legacy system until the migration has completed, as both will need to run side by side, to ensure service uptime.

Those applications which IT teams know will perform well in the cloud, based on monitoring their performance in virtualised on-premise environments, should be moved off-premise first.

This streamlined lift-and-shift approach will not only provide IT professionals with the opportunity to spend more time refactoring applications that require fine tuning before migrating them to the cloud, but also provides confidence in the new environment.

When migrating, it is important to remember that some legacy applications may need to be re-designed, or replacement apps developed natively in the cloud, as some may not function correctly if moved off-premise.  

Once the cloud environment is fully operational, local authorities need to ensure that service uptime is maintained. In the past, local government services have become unavailable, leading to frustration from constituents.

By accompanying a cloud deployment with service assurance solutions which support continuous monitoring across hybrid environments, downtime can be minimised, and IT teams can receive detailed insights into the performance of the environment, allowing for further developments to improve services.

These technologies rely on smart data which is generated from pervasive visibility into traffic flows across the entire IT infrastructure, or “wire-data,” and offers actionable intelligence necessary for IT governance. With such technologies in place, local council offices can ensure that their cloud services are performing optimally, whilst also guaranteeing that the offerings will benefit citizens.

Visibility and insight

By having such visibility across the entire environment, IT teams within local councils can gather smarter insights into service and security assurance, as well as identify and rapidly resolve service issues before they begin to impact users.

With this continuous monitoring and end-to-end service level visibility, local council IT teams can achieve such levels of reliability, whilst being able to simplify the complexity, mitigate risks, accelerate business agility, and promote operational excellence.

This visibility will also enable local councils to take advantage of cloud technology to offer more reliable services to citizens. Carefully managing the transition and digital transformation process will make it possible to ensure a reliable level of service which offers the best outcomes for both the council and its constituents.

These outcomes are measured by metrics such as the quality of user experience, speed of new service innovation, and agility, all of which come together to reflect the predictability and resiliency of delivering services to residents.

For example, without the agility to quickly adopt to new requirements by constituents, speed of execution becomes irrelevant, and quality, measured by citizen satisfaction, unattainable; just as without speed of delivering a new service to citizens at scale the deployment is doomed to fail, regardless of quality and agility.

Once local councils start extending their existing best practices for visibility and security assurance into the cloud they will be able to overcome this fear of losing control and be able to enforce compliance with their governance policies.

At that time, they will become more confident and be ready to increase the rate of shifting existing applications to the cloud and developing new applications natively in the cloud, thus unlocking huge benefits for both users and the councils themselves.

If the transition is managed properly, by using smart data to retain pervasive visibility across the hybrid cloud, the benefits of the move are clear – local authorities will gain the ability to elastically increase the infrastructure capacity based on business needs, with no additional capital expenses, and deploy new high-quality services with speed and agility.

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